Koori no Kitsune

Koori no Kitsune

When Ichimaru Gin heard that there was a new captain of the tenth, he was still just a vice-captain in the fifth division. And his captain insisted that he go and introduce himself and offer their help for the first week or so. And by 'their' help, Aizen meant Gin's help. And Gin knew it. The fifth division captain hardly ever assisted someone if he could help it.
But Gin was fine with that. He would follow Aizen Sousuke to the ends of the earth if necessary, no doubt about it. So he went without argument.
A nameless Shinigami, one of the lower seats of the tenth, informed him that he might have to wait a while, since the new captain was interviewing the possible candidates for his vice-captain. Gin was surprised when Matsumoto Rangiku came out, grinning a very Gin-like grin.

She spotted him and hurried over.
"Gin! Guess what?!" his busty friend began excitedly.
"Wha'?" he asked, only minutely interested.
Her eyes practically sparkled at him. “He's so cute!” she gushed girlishly, rocking on her heels. “Like a little kid! I got the position of fukutaichou! He said he can guarantee it. Something about everyone else being idiots and unentertaining."

Rangiku cocked her head to the side as she considered that, not quite sure what the cute captain had meant by it.

“Ya a clown?” Gin asked her curiously.
The woman gave him a look of pure confusion. “No. Why would I be?" she asked, clearly not making the connection from one statement to the next.
"Well,” Gin explained, grinning. “He finds ya entertainin', so he mus' think yer a clown.”
She pouted, pursing her full lips at him. "That's mean, Gin-chan.”
He shrugged. “Okay. When's he gonna be done? I gotta message from Aizen-taichou.”

Rangiku shrugged, reaching up to toss a length of long hair over her shoulder. “I don't think he has anyone else for the next hour,” she answered, frowning thoughtfully as she glanced behind her at the doorway she had just exited. She turned her attention back to him.

“Well, I've gotta start packing, so see ya later!" Rangiku waved and vanished out the door before he could get another word in edgewise.

“Bye.” Gin was left waving at an empty outer office.

Rangiku hadn't changed one bit, not even with the prospect of becoming vice-captain hanging over her.
“Is someone there?" A gruff, young voice demanded from the inner office.
“Yes, sir,” Gin replied, rising to his feet from the small couch that he could already picture Rangiku sleeping off her hangovers on.

He made his way leisurely to the inner office and stuck his head in, leaning slightly to the side to do so. "Tai... chou?”

Gin opened his eyes to get a better look at the boy in the captain's haori sitting behind the large desk at the back of the room. He vaguely remembered Rangiku mentioning something about the captain being as cute as a little kid. Well, he certainly appeared young. Those big blue eyes were practically screaming innocence even as they stared down at papers.
“Yes?” the boy snapped in an irritable tone, rather small fingers wrapped around a brush that he carefully dipped in an inkwell. “If you're here for the interviews, come back in an hour.”

Shaking his head, Gin walked into the room. “Nah. Aizen-taichou sen' me.” He slid his hands into his sleeves, folding his arms in front of him as he slitted his eyes shut against the bright lights once more.
The young Shinigami looked up from his papers and frowned, giving Gin a clear view of his youthful expression. “The fifth division captain?"
"Yeah." Gin nodded, lips pulled into his usual, wide grin.
“Well, what do you want?” the boy asked, his voice conveying a faint sense of interest.

“He said tha', should ya need anythin', we're here ta help. An' that I'm to assist ya 'till ya get yerself a vice-captain," Gin explained watching as the boy captain opened his mouth to say something, but Gin blithely continued as if he hadn't noticed. “He also says tha' he's sorry he couldn' come in person, bu' he had a buncha stuff ta get done and not enough time.”
The newly appointed captain inclined his head. “I appreciate the gesture. And if I need your assistance, I will let you know...?” By the tone of his voice, he was clearly fishing for a name.
“Ichimaru Gin,” the vice-captain inserted helpfully.

"Ah. Aizen-taichou's vice-captain.” He absorbed this information, storing it away for later before introducing himself. “And I am Captain Hitsugaya Toushirou.”
Gin's grin grew. “That's cute!” he chirped.
Hitsugaya glared, blue eyes flashing with his irritation. "It is not,” he argued in a defensive tone, immediately drawing up straight.
"Okay!" Gin chirped agreeably.

 The boy captain's glare turned positively frosty, setting a light chill to the air. “Go away, Ichimaru-fukutaichou," he ordered with a flick of his wrist.
Gin let out a giggle and departed, leaving behind a headache.

Two years later, Gin was beaming at the prodigy captain. "So, Shirou-kun, ya happy fer me?” he asked.
“No,” Hitsugaya snapped irritably. "And don't call me that! It's Hitsugaya-taichou to you!"
Gin inclined his head solemnly, as if he was going to actually follow through with his agreement. “Okay, Shirou-kun,” he responded not but two seconds later. “I heard that Ukitake-taichou's taken ta callin' ya tha'."

“It doesn't mean you can!” Hitsugaya protested through gritted teeth as he stared at the newly appointed captain in front of him. “In fact, I hate that he does!”
Gin simply blinked. “So... yer not happy fer me?”
“No. I don't know what got into Yamamoto-soutaichou's head to make him think it was a good idea to turn you into a Captain. That's insane,” the boy groused, part of him believing that perhaps the soutaichou had turned senile. He was getting pretty damn old.

The other man grinned. “Exactly,” he replied, as if that made the most perfect sense in all the world. And maybe it did, to crazy guys like Ichimaru Gin.
Hitsugaya frowned at the captain perched happily in a chair on the other side of his desk. “Did Matsumoto let you in?” he demanded, wondering if Ichimaru planned on making invading his office a habit.
“Nope,” Gin replied merrily, an obvious lie.

"Matsumoto!!!" the prodigy shouted, not believing Ichimaru for a second. Therefore, he would go right to the source.
The woman stuck her head in the door. “Yes, sir?” she asked, blinking innocently. Her aura practically radiated modesty, or at least attempted to. With her assets practically hanging from her shihakusho, the attempt was pretty much lost.
“Did you let this... captain in?” Hitsugaya demanded, refusing to name the man sitting across from him. It would be encouragement for Ichimaru, he was sure.

She smiled at him cheerfully, not even sparing her supposed friend a glance. “Nope,” his vice-captain answered, yet another obvious lie. They were obviously conspiring against him.
“Matsumoto--” he growled warningly.

Suddenly, she started, cocking her ear towards the doorway. “What's that?” she said in fake surprise. “I think I heard Kira calling,” she stated and then suddenly disappeared out of the room before he could berate her appropriately.

He should have known. “Who's Kira?” Hitsugaya demanded of the room's only other occupant.

“My vice-captain. He makes grea' tea. Raspberry. Yum.” Gin hummed happily.
“You already have a vice-captain?”

Hitsugaya was slightly surprised. It usually took a while to choose a lieutenant. And if a captain wasn't careful and didn't take his time, he ended up with something like Matsumoto. Lazy, drunk, and nearly homicidal -- he was still recovering from that morning's hug. That aside, Hitsugaya was annoyed.

“O' course! Aizen-taichou helped me pick 'im out!” Gin chirped happily.
A vein ticked in the icy captain's forehead. “Is there a reason you've invaded my office other than to inform me of the captaincy which I already knew you had achieved?" Hitsugaya demanded in a frosty tone, feeling a headache coming on.
“I like spendin' time wit' Shirou-kun!” Gin insisted, amused by the slight chill that had taken over the room. “We should hang out, now that we're both captains!”
Hitsugaya's brow twitched again. Really, he should get that checked out. Gin reached forward, pressing a thin finger to the creased forehead and attempting to rub out the wrinkles.

“Ya should work on yer anger. It's not good fer yer health.”
The other captain worked his jaw for several long moments before batting the hand away. "Don't you have work to do?" he demanded.
Laughing under his breath as he drew back his hand, Gin leaned forward and settled his chin on his palm, elbow on the desk as he watched the other captain. "Nothin' that Izuru-chan can't take care of," he chirped. "Plenty of time ta spend with you."

Hitsugaya glowered at his equal. "I don't <i>want</i> to spend time with you,” he retorted.
“If ya say so,” Gin answered in disbelief.
"I think I just did," Hitsugaya replied with a snort as he gathered up his papers, looking at them determinedly. "Now, I'm busy." It was a clear dismissal and he hoped that the other captain understood and got the hell out of his office.
Too bad he was wrong. "Really? Don' look it." Gin replied, grin growing wider.
The third division captain reached forward and snatched the packet of documents from Hitsugaya's hands. “This looks borin'. We should go get some tea,” he announced.

Hitsugaya nearly slammed down his brush, causing the desk to rattle a bit. He reached forward, trying to grab the papers back. "It's supposed to be boring. It's important. And I don't have time for tea since I actually do my work."
His fingers grasped for the papers, but they were too far, forcing him to rise to his feet and practically lean across the desk. He reached for several long moments until it struck him just then how foolish he must look. He plopped back down into his seat without the documents, resisting the urge to rub at his forehead.
“Don't you have someone else to bother?”
“Nope,” Gin replied simply.

Matsumoto chose that moment to stick her head in the door, interrupting without preamble. “Kira's here,” she announced. “He said he has something for you, Ichimaru-taichou.”
“Send 'im in!” Gin chirped.
She disappeared wth a grin and in her place walked in another Shinigami, blond and rather young looking. He moved slowly, carrying a tray of tea with two cups that rattled in their precarious placement.

“You asked me to bring some tea, sir?” he asked politely, standing in the doorway with his eyes flickering between the two captains.
“Yes! Over here!” Gin waved his vice-captain over even as he grinned at Hitsugaya.
The captain of the tenth division had the uncharacteristic urge to scream. Loudly. Did Ichimaru have a special skill to completely tune out the sound of his voice or something? Didn't he say he didn't want tea?

It was no use. There was no reasoning with the man.
The younger captain sighed, giving into the urge to rub two fingers across his aching forehead. “Fine,” he acquiesced. “One cup. But then, you're gone. I've got to oversee a training session this afternoon.”
Gin grinned triumphantly. “Okay!”


Gin had taken to wandering about Seireitei when he was bored or simply avoiding paperwork. He'd visit numerous people and usually end up thrown out of every division he went to. Even the thirteenth, where Ukitake-taichou would oh-so-politely find some manner to excuse himself.

However, he didn't feel like doing that right now, so he decided to visit his favorite midget instead. Upon entering the tenth division, he was instantly aware that Hitsugaya was annoyed with his vice-captain. Not that it was an uncommon occurrence or anything.
“I taught 'er well,” Gin muttered to himself, grin growing to impossible lengths.

He walked leisurely up to the outer office and strode in like he was meant to be there. Matsumoto was half out on the couch. She groggily acknowledged his presence with a “Hi, Ichimaru-taichou," before passing out again.

He was a bit disappointed that they had to grow apart like that, but he also understood. She was a vice-captain now, he a captain. It was only proper.
Gin stepped into the inner office and grinned at Toushirou. “Hiya, Shirou-kun!” he chirped, making his way to a seat and dropping into it. Hearts practically fluttered around his head.

Hitsugaya twitched, not even looking up to acknowledge the other man's presence. “Go away, Ichimaru,” he said flatly, scribbling angrily on his paperwork.

Matsumoto was passed out again, claiming that she was simply too sick to do any work, leaving it all for him. She had staunchly expressed that it wasn't because of overindulgence of sake even though he knew it was a lie. Why, oh why, couldn't he have taken the time to find a good vice-captain? Then he wouldn't find himself suffocated in breasts all the time.
“I don't feel like putting up with you today,” he added, just in case his first declaration wasn't clear enough.

Gin was uncharacteristically silent for a moment. “Wha's wrong?” He leaned forward, looking Hitsugaya in the face, waiting for a reply.
“It's none of your business,” Hitsugaya automatically snapped, and only belatedly realized that Ichimaru's response had lacked any and all hint of teasing. He reluctantly lifted his gaze, taking a good look at Ichimaru.

“I mean, it's nothing for you to worry about,” he amended, wondering why in hell he even felt a moment's guilt for being so short with the other captain.

Gin hummed thoughtfully. “Well... If ya say so.” He sounded unsure about something or other, as if he were trying to figure something out, but wasn't quite able to do so.

“Ya know, Hitsugaya...” He stopped, apparently changing his mind about what he was going to say. If only Aizen-taichou wouldn't have said such things as he had earlier that day. It kind of made Gin depressed.
“Hitsu...” He stopped again.

He wanted to ask. He wanted to know. But, he couldn't drag anyone else into it. It would surely tear the law-abiding prodigy to pieces to hear what Gin was planning on doing. Then again, Hitsugaya never really cared.

It was like the both of them were dancing around each other and neither had anything to tie himself to the other. Sometimes, Aizen, Rangiku, Izuru and Hinamori were brought into it a bit, but everyone was clueless. Even Rangiku had no clue of Gin's plans, and she knew him better than anyone.
Gin was brooding. He knew he was, but he couldn't help it. He wanted to know,  but he couldn't. He didn't know why, but he didn't want to bring Hitsugaya into it. A part of him wanted to keep the little captain far away from their plans.

“Nevermin',” he announced finally.
Hitsugaya peered at the other captain, wondering if he was losing his mind. It was unusual for Gin to act so uncertain and while he wasn't particularly enthused for Gin's visit and the captain wasn't on his list of absolute favorite people - not that many were - it struck him as odd. Despite himself, he grew a little concerned.

He momentarily dragged his attention away from the important things Yamamoto wanted him to investigate. “What is it, Ichimaru?” he asked, using his best I'm-the-captain-you-better-tell-me-now voice. Not that it really worked but he tried nonetheless.

And, as was usual, Gin was annoyingly evasive. “Wanna have some tea with me, Shirou-kun?!” he inserted eagerly. “I got raspberry!” The look of indecision had completely vanished, replaced entirely by that same bothersome grin.
Best to play it safe for now. Hitsugaya didn't need to know.
The boy captain sighed. And there he was, back to his usual self. Perhaps he had merely imagined Ichimaru's behavior, though a part of him was beginning to wonder. He had learned by now that it was better to let Ichimaru do as he wished otherwise he would pester him forever.

“Whatever you want,” he replied with a dismissive wave and then shook his head. “Sometimes, I feel sorry for Kira-fukutaichou having to put up with you.”
Gin gave him a triumphant grin, but there was a sadness in that smile that was easily missed. “Yay!”
There was a timid knock on the door, keeping either from saying anything more.

“Come in!!!” Gin chirped, glad for the distraction that would keep the boy captain from questioning him further.

Hinamori Momo was the one to slide the door open, stepping inside. She smiled sweetly at Hitsugaya, completely ignoring Gin's presence.

“Shirou-chan!” she greeted happily, excitement clear in her light voice. “How are you today?” The vice-captain was obviously happy to see her childhood friend.
Hitsugaya's eyes turned towards the door, surprised to find her standing in the doorway. "Hinamori?" he said in astonishment. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be helping Aizen-taichou?" And then he remembered, automatically turning towards Ichimaru. "And don't invite people into my office for me!"

Gin grinned, but didn't answer.
“How many times do I have to tell you, Shirou-chan? It's Momo!” she protested. “And Aizen-taichou said it was my lunch break, so...” She ended the sentence with a shrug. “I brought watermelon!” Hinamori finished her announcement by bringing forth the large, uncut fruit from where she had been hiding it behind her back.
Icy blue eyes blinked. “And how are we supposed to eat that?” Hitsugaya asked, all the while wondering how such a tiny girl could even manage to carry the melon. “Besides, I don't have time for a lunch break. Maybe later.”

“I was thinking of having iced watermelon,” she admitted, nearly bouncing on her feet in her excitement.
“Or I could cut it fer ya,” Gin offered, his smile looking strained.
She ignored him. “You could use your pretty dragon's powers and freeze it, then we could break it with this sledgehammer!”

Hinamori disappeared behind the door, only to reemerge a second later with a sledgehammer, having stashed it on the other side of the door before opening it.  Hitsugaya could only gape – inwardly, of course – at her level of preparedness.

Gin watched the girl for a moment. There was something wrong. She was trembling in fear from head to foot. It was barely noticeable, but it was there. She was afraid of him. And most sane people tried to ignore their fears.

“Ya know, it's rude ta ignore a captain, Hinamori-fukutaichou,” he informed her, watching the young woman carefully for a reaction.
She noticeably tensed at the sound of his voice and slowly turned towards him with the aura of a frightened rabbit. With a swallow, Hinamori bowed deeply.

“Forgive me, Ichimaru-taichou. I must not have been paying very much attention.” She laughed feebly before quickly diverting her attention back to Hitsugaya. “So? Will you do it?”
Hitsugaya rolled his eyes. “I'm not going to summon my shikai to freeze a watermelon,” he stated with a snort. “Just run out there and tell Matsumoto to get a knife or something. She's not doing anything.”
She pouted visibly but acquiesced. “Fine.”

Hinamori turned on her heels and scurried from the room, looking happy for a short reprieve. She was very nearly breathing sighs of relief.

While she was gone, Gin sulked in his chair, looking extremely unhappy.
Shaking his head, Hitsugaya attempted to return his attention to important matters but the pouting captain across from him was incredibly distracting. “What's the matter with you?” he demanded.
Gin blinked in surprise and looked up. “Ya didn' notice?” he asked incredulously.
“Notice what?” Hitsugaya asked, confusion filtering through. He blinked at Ichimaru, uncertain what the other man was implying.

“She's afraid o' me.” He moped. “Tha's really... depressin'.” He cracked his eyes open, a bit of crimson gleaming through, and stared dejectedly at the desk in front of him. “No one's afraid o' me.”
Hitsugaya snorted. “I'm certainly not. I'm more annoyed by you then anything.” He paused, reconsidering.

It was a very... awkward situation to say the least. There were many unnerved by Ichimaru's presence but he didn't think now was a good time to say such things.

“Besides, Hinamori used to be afraid of her own shadow, there's nothing to worry about her,” he added loftily, wondering why in Seireitei he was actually trying to comfort the eccentric captain.
Gin peered up at the younger captain. He wondered why the boy would say such a thing when he usually didn't care. He smiled slightly.

“Yeah. I guess...”
It was at this point that Momo returned with the cut up fruit. “I managed to get a third seat to help me. Matsumoto-fukutaichou's out on the couch,” she explained, placing the platter full of watermelon pieces down on Hitsugaya's desk. She carefully avoided looking at the third division captain.

“Fine, just--”

A burst of irritated reaitsu disturbed Hitsugaya from whatever he was going to say. He shifted his gaze, only to find that Ichimaru had abruptly vanished without a word.
Momo sighed in relief. “He's so... terrifying,” she muttered, hastily wiping away the beads of sweat that had gathered in her unconscious fear. Not just the captain's oppressive reaitsu, but his very presence was unnerving to her.

“Why?” Hitsugaya asked, the question slipping out before he could stop it, wondering why Gin would let something like Hinamori's fear affect him that much. “He's not even half as crazy as Kurotsuchi,” he added with some distraction.
It was so unusual for Ichimaru to leave like that, Hitsugaya wasn't sure what to think. And then, he pushed it aside. Ichimaru's strange behavior shouldn't have had anything to do with him in the first place. He had work to do... after a lunch break, of course.

Hinamori shrugged and dropped the subject. “Want some watermelon?” she offered happily.

Though curious, Hitsugaya refrained from chasing after Ichimaru, not that he had really planned to, and reached for a slice.

Hitsugaya wasn't sure what the call the emotions threading through him. Betrayal. Anger. Confusion. Maybe a bit of all three with some hurt for good measure. Aizen was dead, Hinamori was in prison, ryoka were invading Soul Society. It sounded like utter madness but it was also reality.
His only clue in the entire situation was the only man who had managed to maintain his usual smile through the entire debacle. Who had simply stood there while his vice-captain and Hinamori were fighting. Ichimaru hadn't even tried to stop them and he dreaded to think what would have happened if he hadn't shown up.

Ichimaru had offered no explanation then and Hitsugaya had been too preoccupied to find time to demand one. What with making sure someone took down Aizen's body and getting the two vice-captains to the prisons. But here he was now, flitting across Seireitei and heading for the third division. Everything had been taken care of; it was time to get some answers.
He came to a stop in front of the third division and entered the main headquarters without announcing himself. He passed through Kira's office and just as he was about to throw open the door to Ichimaru's office, it opened in front of him. He was left standing face to face with the object of his search.

“Ichimaru,” he practically growled. “What the hell is going on?”
Gin looked almost worried. “Goin' on?” he asked, feigning ignorance.

He grinned at the boy captain, as they were both aware that he could easily take him down in an instant. “Don' know wha' yer talkin' abou', Shirou-kun.” Despite his calm demeanor, he looked like he was trying to speed things along. “How's Hinamori-chan?” he queried evasively.

Hitsugaya gritted his teeth. Ichimaru didn't care a half-wit about Hinamori and Hitsugaya knew it. He was just asking to be callous.

“Don't think that I'm stupid,” he countered angrily, standing his ground.
Ichimaru glanced past Hitsugaya and let out a barely concealed sigh. “I can' talk righ' now, Shirou-kun,” he said a tad impatiently.
Hitsugaya refused to move, ignoring Ichimaru's restlessness. It was time Ichimaru had to suffer his presence for once, rather than the other way around.

“I know you have something to do with what's going on. What are you planning?" he demanded, though he refrained from asking the real question.

He wondered if Ichimaru really did kill Aizen. But weren't they really close? It didn't make any sense, none that he could see.
Gin exhaled slowly. “I guess it won' work this time, huh? I wouldn't exactly call myself the plotter.”

Icy blue eyes narrowed. "You're not the plotter?" he repeated. “Then who is?”

To be expected, Ichimaru didn't really answer his question. “Jus'... get outta my way, Hitsugaya-taichou,” he ordered, his reiatsu swirling in anxiety. “I don' wanna hur' ya.”
Hitsugaya suddenly felt as if he were wavering unsteadily. Nothing made sense anymore. Ichimaru wasn't even speaking normally at all. Where were the smiles, the jokes, the teasing and taunting?

“You can't hurt me, bastard. I'm a captain, too.”

Gin's smile was wiped away, replaced by a serious look that held sadness. “Rank holds no sway anymore. I 'spect it hasn' fer a while.” He scratched the underside of his chin thoughtfully. “I've gotta go, Shirou-kun. Do me a favor?” He looked at Hitsugaya, pleading with his eyes.
Confusion replaced most of everything else. What the hell was Ichimaru talking about? Rank had no meaning? What did he mean? He scowled, hating being left out of the loop. He felt like he was someone's pawn being dragged around and he didn't approve one bit.

“Don't call me that. I don't do anyone favors,” he groused, but upon noticing the strange look on Ichimaru's face, something in him eased if only slightly and he amended with a sigh. “If I say yes, will you answer my questions?”
“No,” Gin answered honestly. “But ya'll know soon enough. There'll be a figh'. I won' be serious. Do me a favor and don' be serious, either?”

Hitsugaya blinked, taking an unconscious step backwards. “A fight? What the hell're you talking about?” One hand went for his zanpakutou as if on instinct. Was that what Ichimaru wanted?
“Not now. Bu'... soon.” Gin sighed. “I have ta go.” His hand moved as fast as lightning before Hitsugaya could so much as register, striking him on the temple. As he crumbled, Gin said his last words. “I'm sorry, Shirou-kun.”

Hitsugaya couldn't stop himself from falling as weakness entered his entire body. He struck the floor in an undignified pose, splayed across polished wood. The weight of Hyourinmaru was heavy on his back. Darkness encroached on his vision, and the last thing he saw was Ichimaru heading out the door, his words echoing on the back of Hitsugaya's mind.
And then there was nothing.

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